1529 Gilson Street
We walked to the neon-blue store/angelfish breeding shop on May 14, in the bitter cold. We were greeted by a warm burst of humid air the second we walked in the door. Dick LeBeck, the owner, told us that he started breeding fish over thirty years ago as a hobby. He also said he only raised salt-water fish except for goldfish. He specializes in angelfish.
It smells like the ocean completely. I went to Florida and to the ocean a lot and it smells exactly like that.
In the back of the store, where the tanks are, he grows worms for the fish to eat. One kind that he had was the micro-worm which he grew in some gross oatmeal-colored mixture. The other kind of worm was the white worm. It is bigger than the micro-worm but still easy for the angelfish to swallow.
When we walked in, Nikki, Sara, and Jay’s glasses all steamed up from the humidity. Before Mr. Le Beck told us, I thought Tropical Fish World was a place where people buy fish as pets. But it’s actually a place where he breeds tropical fish and goldfish. With all of the tanks, brightly colored fish, and small amount of lighting, nobody cold guess that the place was once a banana store, the back rooms of which had eight-foot-long bunches of bananas hanging from the ceiling. And the smell. It was an interesting combination of dead fish, algae, mod, and old dog food.
He told us about the breeding. He had to keep the temperature at seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit otherwise the fish wouldn’t hatch.
Dick Le Beck likes to raise food for his fish. He has Grindel worms for some of the bigger fish. They look like transparent string. For the fish that can’t eat the Grindel worms, he has tiny worms. They are in a dish of some kind of mush that looks like very milky oatmeal. When you look closely, you can see the surface glittering and moving so fast, and they are so small, that you cannot see individual worms.
Dick Le Beck has worked in Tropical Fish World for forty years and has six hundred aquariums. He raises angelfish from the Amazon in most of his aquariums. But some of his aquariums contain red tail sharks or albino red tails sharks (not really sharks), goldfish, koi, a lung fish (a big fish that looks like a short eel), Daphnia (fish food), electric catfish, algae eating catfish (for clearing algae off walls) and a few others.
The reason it was so hot was because there were some newborns and they have to balance the temperature so the fish can live and survive.
The baby angelfish looked like tadpoles and were about as big as the lead that you see on a sharpened pencil. There were about sixty of them. After we looked at the babies, we saw a twenty-five year old African lung fish. It was in a dark corner at the edge of the warehouse. It was probably about one and half feet long and it looked like an eel.
Did you know that if you didn’t take angelfishes’ baby eggs out, the parents will eat them!
I want to become an ichthyologist, a person who studies fish, so the Tropical Fish World was a really inspiring experience. In the pretty short time we were there I decided that if I don’t become an ichthyologist, I want to become a hatcherist or whatever you would call it.
Smell . . .
The humid air
Feel . . .
The warm mist on your face
See . . .
The angel fish and fish products
Touch . . .
The window pane of an aquarium
Hear . . .
The soft ripple of water
as the air bubbles pop
when they reach the surface of